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Top Ten Tips for Visiting Mammoth Cave National Park

Planning a visit to Mammoth Cave? GREAT! Here are some tips that will help you have a fun and memorable visit to the longest cave system in the world.

A group of people walk in a dark cave while holding lanterns.
Great Onyx Lantern Tour

NPS Photo/ Kait Evensen

1. Get Your Cave Tour Tickets and Campground Reservations in Advance

Cave tours are our most popular activity and often sell out. By purchasing your tickets ahead of time through Recreation.gov, it will ensure you can get the tour you want, on the day you want, at the time you want. It is a win-win-win!

And don’t miss your chance to roast s’mores around the campfire, make your campsite reservation in advance for one of our three campgrounds. Reservations can be made through Recreation.gov.

2. Pick the Right Tour

Mammoth Cave offers a variety of cave tours for visitors of all abilities an interest. This allows you to select the adventure that best fits your group’s needs. From a 2.5-mile, 2.5-hour dirt trail hike to an underground river, to a .25-mile, 1.25-hour walk to see hundreds of dripstone formations, there is a tour here that is right for you. Check out all our tour descriptions to learn about all our tour options.

Two people hiking on a trail.
Hiking near the Historic Entrance of Mammoth Cave.

NPS Photo/ Nathaniel Leies

3. Get Out Early to Enjoy the Sunnier Side of the Park

Mammoth Cave is known for its extensive labyrinth of underground cave passages, but did you know the park has over 85 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails? Get out on the trails early in the day to view wildlife, wildflowers, and the park’s scenic views along the forested rolling hills before the rest of the world has even rolled out of bed for their morning breakfast.

4. Hang Out With a Ranger

If you are looking for something to do other than visit a dark hole in the ground, join one of our guides for a free Ranger-led Program. These walks and talks take place throughout the day and offer a great way to learn about the park. They are the perfect activity to complement your cave tour.

People sitting in red kayaks on a river.
Explore a river side cave along the Green River.

NPS Photo/ Kevin Howard

5. Paddle Away on a Weekday

Not all the water at Mammoth Cave is hidden at the bottom of a cave. The park is home to over 30 miles of the Green and Nolin Rivers which are perfect for paddling or fishing. The river can get very busy over the weekends, though, so plan your trip along the scenic waterways on weekdays to avoid congestion at the river access points. Several canoe and kayak outfitters are happy to set you up for your trip down the river.

6. Remember Your Jacket

The sultry summer heat and humidity can make us sweat, but the cave’s temperature averages a cool 54 degrees year-round. Be prepared for your tour by bringing an extra clothing layer to keep you comfortable while inside the cave. Find out what else you need to Know Before You Go.

Groups of people line up to get on two green buses.
Don't miss out on the fun. Cave tours depart in a timely manner.

NPS Photo

7. Don’t Be Scared. Be Prepared!

Mammoth Cave is a place for fun, not folly! At the end of the day, we want both you and the park to be in a better condition than when you first found each other. Learn more about how to keep yourself and the park safe during your visit.

8. Tick-Tock…Watch the Clock

Mammoth Cave National Park sits on the far eastern side of the Central Time Zone (GMT-5). This can be confusing to visitors traveling from the north and Eastern Time Zone who are trying to plan their cave tour schedule. We don’t want you to be too late or too early for your tour.

A car is transported across the river on a ferry.
Traveling across the Green River? Check the ferry status before you go.

NPS Photo/ Molly Schroer

9. Don’t Let Technology Lead You Astray

GPS and electronic navigations are handy for guiding us around, but they don’t always lead you on the best path to the park. Check your route and review our directions to the park before you set out on your journey. Also know that public Wi-Fi is available at the park visitor center but cell service throughout the park can be spotty.

10. See What South-Central Kentucky is All About

Feel like you are cramming a lot of Mammoth Cave into one day trip? Stay around and avoid the rush! There are several lodging and camping options inside the park as well as within our neighboring communities. You might even check another National Park Service site off your list by visiting Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgensville, KY which is right up the road.

Last updated: May 27, 2021